Illinois governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2228 which has, effective immediately, made the possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense rather than a criminal offense. Now, possessing 10 grams of marijuana or less will be a civil offense punishable via fines of up to $200. This is a huge step for the notoriously strict prohibitionist state.
This law will also expunge any civil citation record of someone who was charged with possession of 10 grams or less. This way, a record won’t interfere with someone finding work and supporting themselves.
In 2013, Illinois signed a bill allowing a medical marijuana pilot program to run in the state, but it took 17 months and one of the toughest vetting processes in the nation to set up the infrastructure that would allow patients to get a medical cannabis card. While businesspeople, doctors (and in general fans of marijuana) decried the difficult process, it was generally accepted by lawmakers that the restrictive access, which was only given to patients who had 29 debilitating conditions, was necessary in order to get the bill signed.
As of 2015, over 24,000 patients had access to medical marijuana in Illinois. In 2010, Illinois ranked 5th in the nation in marijuana arrests. Various studies showed that extreme racial disparities were an issue in pot arrests in Illinois and Chicago as of two years ago. So needless to say, decriminalization should lead to less overpacked prisons, stop wasting police resources and will end young people doing jail time for possessing the plant. Not to mention it’ll create a new revenue stream through the citations while negating the high cost of inmates.
You can read more details on the bill here.